Friday, April 3, 2009

A Fun Gig Last Night - Dueling Harps!

The Roadhouse Joe band played a club in Golden CO last night, and we had a guest singer for the first set. Our regular singer had to arrive late, so we invited A.C. -- a guy who fronts another local blues band -- to sit in.

He's also a fine harp player. He builds and plays what he calls a Diminished harp. Here's how he described it to me in an email:

The Diminished harp I use now is made from the Marine Band 12 Hole Soloist (the 364). The Diminished tuning I use starts with C (same C as the first hole of a regular C harp). The layout is below (first column are blow notes, second are draw notes): I'm not sure if you can call the positions the same on it as on a regular diatonic. The idea behind the tuning is that the draw notes are two half notes above the blow notes so you can bend each draw note a half, and each blow note is a half a step above the previous draw note = you get a chromatic scale using regular bends. All patterns repeat each other so learning the three patterns (blow pattern, bend pattern and draw pattern) allows you to play all twelve keys with a single harp. Intonation is a bitch - I struggle with that but forcing myself to do it :)

1 C, D
2 Eb,F
3 F#,G#
4 A, B
5 C, D
6 Eb,F
7 F#,G#
8 A, B
9 C, D
10 Eb,F
11 F#,G#
12 A, B
I think Dan Treanor uses a similar harp.
A.C. sounded great and the contrast between his cool chromatic-ish playing and my second position honking is kind of cool. Here's a clip recorded with a Zoom H4 laying on one of the tables.

AC is playing through an EV RE-10 mic with the Greg Heumann inline volume control into a stock Fender Bassman reissue wth 4 alnico Blue speakers. His RI Bassman is an early model, I think from 1989; pretty beat up and cool looking. It has that fat Bassman tone.

I'm playing my bullet mic with Shure CM (also from Greg Heumann!) into the 5F2H harp amp, my usual gig rig. Both amps are mic'ed into the PA system.

It was a very fun show. A.C. plays with the band Mojambus. Catch one of his shows if you can... The dude is a blues hound.

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